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Cross-cultural approaches for teachers across Europe to engage young people in civic thinking (Demo:Dram)

Teachers and educators all around Europe can play a crucial role in increasing their students’ civic engagement and democratic awareness and participation.

teachers demo
Researchers
  • Dr. Eleni Kanira 
  • Chris Bolton 
  • Emma Bloor
  • Andy Brogan 
  • Edward Lee, Orlagh Russell (Heartlands Academy, UK)
  • Terina Talbot, Robert Colvill (Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, UK)
  • Adam Bethlenfalvy (Insite Theatre in Education Company, Hungary)
  • Gilberto Scaramuzzo, Flavia Gallo, Jenny England (University of Rome, Italy)
  • Stephanos Cherouvis (Ellinogermaniki Agogi, Greece)
  • Sara Lembrechts, Nele Willems (Human Rights and Children’s Rights Education, KeKi, Belgium)
Background

The six organisations involved in this project have examined how drama in schools can be used to explore different subjects within different curricula to create democratic spaces. Underpinning this is a belief that democracy is in a crisis in this day and age. Teachers and educators all around Europe can play a crucial role in increasing their students’ civic engagement and democratic awareness and participation.

In the context of the classroom, democracy can be seen not only as a system (or a set of procedures), but as a dialogical process and a perspective, which ensure the unremitting assessment of all values that underline human coexistence and engagement, including all core tenets such as tolerance and freedom that many understand as non-negotiable principles of modern organized societies.

We believe that it is useful to understand democracy as an on-going process of individual and collaborative engagement that facilitates authentic expression and understanding, and involvement in the decisions that affect us. This active engagement can be fostered and practised in school settings as well, but it is important to clarify that it can mean much more than voting about specific issues or understanding institutions of democracy.

Importantly Drama in Education relies on engaging participants in fiction – fiction that they are creating themselves – and this provides a form of protection, which offers an educational, rather than a therapeutic perspective. Drama in Education in this sense creates a space for participants to understand the world in which they live.

We believe that this approach lends itself to enabling an exploration of content from other subject disciplines, such as the humanities or languages. This is particularly useful for making difficult, or controversial issues, meaningful and accessible to young people.

Research Aims
  • To develop and explore educational tools, strategies and ideas that will enable teachers to incorporate them into their subject areas
  • To use drama in education and mimesis in education as tools to explore and facilitate democracy and student civic engagement
  • To create democratic classrooms in education and develop the notion of ‘living democracy’
  • To increase participation in democracy and civic thinking for both teacher and young people
Methods of Research

Demo-Dram seeks to address a range of issues essential for democratic classrooms and schools that are facilitated by competent teachers aiming to increase student civic engagement and democratic awareness and participation. The project innovates by seeking to address a range of issues essential for democratic classrooms and schools that are facilitated by competent teachers of languages and humanities and drama teachers working together aiming to increase student civic engagement and democratic awareness and participation.

Demo-Dram is an innovative project because it enables secondary teachers of languages and humanities who have never used drama before to work with drama practitioners and apply drama techniques to their curriculum subject areas in order to activate student voice and civic engagement.